David Frum

05.01.13

The Power of Stem Cell Research Saves a Little Girl

In another win for modern medicine, surgeons from the US and Switzerland have used stem cells to build a windpipe for 2-year old Hannah Warren, who was born without one.

Until the operation at a U.S. hospital, she had spent her entire life in a hospital in Seoul. Doctors there told her parents there was no hope and they expected her to die. The stem cells came from Hannah's bone marrow, extracted with a special needle inserted into her hip bone. They were seeded in a lab onto a plastic scaffold, where it took less than a week for them to multiply and create a new windpipe.

The windpipe was implanted April 9 in a nine-hour procedure. Early signs indicate the windpipe is working, Hannah's doctors announced Tuesday, although she is still on a ventilator. They believe she will eventually be able to live at home and lead a normal life.